Archibald's Adventures is a puzzle platform game from Rake in Grass, creator of Larva Mortus, KingMania, and others. You play the skateboard-riding Archibald who accidentally becomes trapped in Professor Klumpfus' twisted underground lair. Roll your way through 100+ stages, moving boxes with bubblegum, leaping gaps with a running start, and hitting switches beneath pools of acid to work your way out of the mutant-infested passageways.It's one of those rare games that keeps begging you to come back for more.
Young Archibald starts the game riding a skateboard, thus granting him a certain set of abilities. You can roll left or right, build up speed to jump across large gaps, and leap heights exactly one block tall. Soon you'll get some gum that allows you to control a sticky bubble that can attach to wooden crates and move them around. These simple mechanics form the groundwork for the entire game, but learning to bend the rigid physics to your advantage is the key to mastering Archibald's Adventures.
Each stage is divided into a number of levels that culminates in a story-progressing final chapter. You can complete levels in any order you like, which works well when you get stuck on a nigh-impossible puzzle or jump that's too tough for you to handle. To move on to the next stage you must complete at least eight of the levels, but completists will have a blast finishing each and every level in the game.
Fortunately, Archibald's Adventures isn't content with keeping the basic mechanics unchanging throughout the game. Later you'll trade in your skateboard for a rolling pod that can stick to metallic surfaces (complete with a magnetic arm that can latch onto ceilings), and for a few levels you'll pilot a flying vehicle. The basic mechanics usually stay the same, though, so no matter what you're controlling, you're still in familiar territory.
Analysis: Delightfully old-school, both in terms of visuals and gameplay, Archibald's Adventures hooked me from the first level and wouldn't let go until I completed the game. The physics have a slight "on rails" feel to them and aren't completely natural, but its that artificial movement that builds the essence of the game that makes it such a joy to master. Learning how to bounce off walls to land where you need to, discovering ways to give yourself enough ground to make a long leap, and maneuvering bubble-box combos through tight situations is both immediately gratifying and satisfying in the long run. Archibald's Adventures is about learning what makes the game tick and bending those rules to your advantage. And that is infinitely more powerful than any list of features on a press release.
One minor complaint I have about Archibald's Adventures is its increasing reliance upon reflex-based platforming mechanics rather than cerebral puzzles. For the first third of the game you spend your time trying to figure out how to progress, but later it's more about hairpin jumps and trial-and-error timing puzzles. It's still challenging and it doesn't "break" the game, but it felt a little out of place to me.
Archibald's Adventures is a stellar game no matter how you look at it. If you're a fan of The Lost Vikings and similar side-scrolling action/puzzle games, Archibald's Adventures will tickle a similar corner of your nostalgic heart. The art direction is great, the gameplay is solid, and there's enough content and challenge to keep you rolling back for more day after day.